Friday, December 11, 2009

Pretty Dead

Title: Pretty Dead
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Block

Fans of Twilight will most likely pick up Pretty Dead as a read-alike. Sadly, many of those fans will be very disappointed. Francesca Lia Block is a talented writer who revolutionized both the fantasy and LGBT genre for teens in the 90s and 00s. When I heard she wrote a vampire story, I had high hopes. I read the book in one day but didn't realize until after finishing it that the reason I was flying through it was because I wanted to finish and read something good.

Quite different from the heroines of other vampire books, the beautiful 100+ year old Charlotte Emerson is constantly in a state of sorrow, despite being immortal, beautiful, well loved and extremely wealthy. It’s as if Block read Poe and Plath and transferred that melancholy into a vampire story, minus the good execution. Charlotte has seen everything from the bombing of Hiroshima, to Woodstock, to September 11th- all at the age of seventeen. She is immortal and perfect in every way. However, she is overcome by her constant wallowing of her immortality. She has a very close relationship with her brother (some scenes suggested a little too close, which was creepy). When he dies in the early 1900s, she tries to continue her life, despite being devastated.In present day when her best friend Emily dies suddenly, she starts to turn back into a human. Things get even weirder when her maker (and decades long lover) William comes back into her life after separating years before! The ending is extremely anti-climatic.

The reader will most likely not connect to the characters. The flowery, pseudo-intellectual prose will not be appreciated by teens looking for a fun vampire story or characters they can identitfy with. Although there are a few interesting moments, it’s obvious that this contrived story was simply Block trying to market off the vampire craze. Instead, it reads like terrible fan fiction you would find on the Hot Topic message board.

Bottom Line: Judging from this letdown, Pretty Dead sounds less like a book title and more like Block's (once present) storytelling ability.

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